How to Record Windows Desktop Screen with Sound Using FFmpeg

There are hundreds of programs available on the internet that promise to record/capture your screen into a video file. But the video quality produced by them is not as good as it should be. For example, I have used a commercial software suite TechSmith Camtasia, which comes with an excellent video editor, to record the screen and it did not produce a video to my satisfaction. At the same time, I have used an open-source tool FFmpeg to record the computer screen in Windows 10 and it produced a very high quality video – in fact, I could not see any difference between the live screen output quality and the captured video quality.

If you want to record Windows desktop screen into a video along with the sound being played in your PC, then here is how you can go about it:

  1. Download FFmpeg from https://www.ffmpeg.org/. Choose the static build for Windows from the downloads. Extract the contents of the downloading archive to a folder say C:\FFMPEG.
  2. Download UScreenCapture DirectShow filter from http://www.umediaserver.net/components/index.html and install it in Windows. For some reason the 64-bit version does not work in Windows 10 64-bit. But  32-bit version works in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 10.
  3. Right-click on speaker icon in Windows system tray and select Recording devices. In the small window that opens, right-click and select Show Disabled Devices. Select Stereo Mix and click on the Properties button.Record Windows Desktop Screen Using FFmpeg
  4. In the Stereo Mix properties, enable the device by choosing Use this device (enable) and then under the Listen tab uncheck the option Listen to this device. Finally click on the OK button to save settings.Record Windows Desktop Screen Using FFmpeg
  5. In the folder where you extracted FFmpeg archive, double-click on ff-prompt.bat file to open the FFmpeg command prompt.
  6. Give the following command in the FFmpeg command prompt window –
    ffmpeg -list_devices true -f dshow -i dummy

    Note down the audio Stereo Mix device name. For example in my Windows 10 PC, it shows “Stereo Mix (Realtek High Definition Audio)”.Record Windows Desktop Screen Using FFmpeg

  7. Now in order to capture the screen activity along with all the sound being played into a video file, you can give this command –
    ffmpeg -f dshow -i video="UScreenCapture":audio="Stereo Mix (Realtek High Definition Audio)" "C:\videos\out.mp4"

    Of course, the name of the audio device should be changed to whatever you discovered in the previous step. Similarly, the output video file should be changed to wherever you want to save the recorded video file. The video file extension can also be picked to be anything supported by FFmpeg like MKV or MPG, but the MP4 and MKV give the best quality and fast performance.

  8. Press q in the FFmpeg command prompt window whenever you want to stop the recording of the video.

Conclusion: You do not need any expensive software to record the screen activity into video along with the sound being played. You can record the Windows desktop using free and open-source tools like FFmpeg.

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